Parts Work


One of the most effective therapy practices

What are the parts?

If you ever wondered why you reacted certain way in one situation and very differently in another or that you felt calm and relaxed until someone called you or walked in and your mood immediately changed, this is why.

Another way of understanding what parts are, is in situations where you are unable to make a decision. This is because there is a part within you that wants one thing and another part that wants and needs something else.

If you think we all have just one personality (one part), you might be in for a big surprise. All adults have multiple personalities (multiple parts). The aim is for the parts to be in harmony but this is not always the case.

Why do we have multiple parts?

Many of us are unaware of our parts and so we have no idea how fragmented we actually are. A fragment or a split in consciousness happens when we suffer a trauma. When we go through a trauma, a new part, a protector part, is created.

The easiest way to explain how this works, is on an example:

A little girl's dad decides to leave his family, he runs away from home and never returns. There is a part within this little girl that is craving closeness and connection with her dad. This is the vulnerable part that needs love. But because she is unable to fulfill this need and this experience is extremely painful for a child to process as she might feel rejected, alone and powerless, this is exactly where the split happens and a new part is created that overrides the vulnerable part. This is the protective part that is going to keep her safe. The part that will be pushing people away, that doesn't trust people and especially men. When this little girl grows up, it is very likely that she will be meeting people and especially men (if she is heterosexual) who will make her feel alone, rejected and unloved, just like her dad did. The suppressed (vulnerable) part is going to be triggered very often. It is also very likely that this woman will not be seeking relationships to start with. She might come across as a very strong female who doesn't need men in her life. This is thanks to the protective part that is keeping her safe and protecting her from being hurt again. Deep down she is craving closeness, connection and love. But she won't be aware of this as this is the supressed part.

Another example could be a little boy who is growing up in a family where anger is not accepted. So whenever this little boy expresses his anger, he is being reminded that it is not ok to be this way. He might get punished for showing his anger and rejected. Eventually this little boy suppresses his anger and becomes a "good boy". This boy eventually grows up and becomes a man. He will come across as very kind, calm and gentle but underneath this facade there is a whole different story, an internal war. How big the internal war is, depends on the level of suppression. He is also likely to attract people and especially women (if he is heterosexual) who will freely express their anger. This is going to be very triggering for him as that's a part he suppressed and denied. And again, because this happens on a subconscious level, he won't be aware of why anger triggers him so much.

If there is a part we suppressed or denied, we need to understand and allow that part to come up to the surface in order for us to heal. This is why every trigger provides a great opportunity to look at something we are not aware of.

What happens if we suppress certain parts?

What we suppress and deny will show up in our life like a mirror. There are some therapy practices that unconsciouslly support the suppression of certain parts and its needs - things like anger, rage, attachment, sexual needs or desires. There are also some religious practices and teachings that support pushing away some of these aspects. Especially the practices that focus on achieving internal piece. What these practices do is that they push away the unwanted parts and they focus on embracing the wanted ones instead. This then creates a bigger fragment within our consciousness. If you ever hear of a spiritual teacher or a priests sexually abusing children, this is why. Because if you push away the needs of certain aspects, they will come out in a very dark way. Another way for the parts to show up in our lives is through a physical illness.

Another thing that could happen if we don't pay attention to these aspects is that they can manifest into a physical illness.

What should be our aim and how do we get there?

I cannot stress enough how important it is to take all parts into consideration. The aim is not to get rid of our parts!

First step is to become aware of them. Then you want to gently question each one. Become interested in knowing how they feel, where they originate from. Is the vulnerable part aware of the protective part? Underneath these parts there is so much suppressed pain, a crying child that wants to be heard and understood.

It's a process that we can do on our own or with a therapist but it cannot be rushed. Once both the vulnerable and the protector parts are listened to, they will be able to relax. This is what stops our internal war - the awareness of our parts, our understanding of them and our compassion towards them.